by Peter Viney and Karen Viney
Oxford University Press
Grapevine attempts to provide a course suitable for the wide range of abilities and previous knowledge that are found with most adult group beginners.
The course comprises a text book, two workbooks, two cassettes, and an optional video and video workbook. In this respect, Grapevine is not very different from its competitors. However, Grapevine does have several advantages over its competitors.
In my opinion, the great advantage of Grapevine is the thoughtful way vocabulary development has been integrated into the course. Vocabulary is divided into three arbitrary categories of active, passive, and classroom. The active vocabulary in a unit is the language that students will be expected to produce or is important in the understanding of the unit. The passive vocabulary is words which appear in a particular unit and can generally be understood in context. The passive vocabulary is recycled in later units, as active vocabulary and so the student is already familiar with the sight and sound of the new vocabulary items when they come up in the unit.
I have found it a very successful way of developing students vocabulary.
The student's book, like most beginner's books concentrates much more on speaking and listening than reading and writing, but the workbooks, which are very well planned, are geared to compensate for this.
Grapevine has a variety of different styles of illustration which means that the students do not lose interest because of the layout of the book.
The syllabus is a balance between functional and structural elements and in common with other courses, such as The Cambridge English Course One, grammar summaries are provided at the end of the students' book.
The syllabus has a spiral structure with built in revision. This means that the students are constantly receiving recycling and reinforcement of previous language input.
Peter Viney is of course famous for his 'Streamline" series, and Streamline Departures has been one of the most widely used books for beginners. Departure has been criticised for an over emphasis on communication. However, this cannot be said of Grapevine which is orientated towards communication, although this does not mean that drills are not given due importance since most units include some form of drill. Personally I think beginners need to practice getting their mouths round strange sounds and drills are as good a way as any of achieving this. The form the drills take are varied and I have found that the students actively enjoy them.
Grapevine is a well thought out and well produced course, which is enjoyable both to teach and to study.
English Language Teacher
International House, Torrelavega